ONE REGULAR part of the Christian calendar is the feast of the Holy Innocents, which was observed yesterday. For Christians, the day commemorates the children of Bethlehem who were massacred by Herod the Great in his attempt to kill the infant Jesus. But the feast also has a message that resonates beyond the Christian community. It reminds us of the brutality of some forms of power, while encouraging us to take steps to safeguard the quality of life of our most vulnerable.
In this regard, we welcome the efforts being made to fast track how cancers are detected and treated in children. Hopefully, the collaboration between the Ministry of Health and the Royal Bank of Canada to obtain new screening equipment locally will be an example of how public/private initiatives can co-operate to enhance the quality of life of members of our society.
Collectively, we all have a responsibility to our children. And that responsibility is one we should acknowledge not only at Christmas time but all year round.
The year 2018 saw continued work on the part of key stakeholders. The Children’s Authority continued to implement its mandate, but yet again disclosed statistics suggesting the prevalence of crimes against children remains unacceptably high. Though in operation for only three years, the authority has 16,000 cases and has received reports numbering four times as many.
The year 2019 will be a crucial year for the authority if it is to deal with these staggeringly high numbers going forward. It should be noted that due to the large number, it has been forced to open regional offices at Tobago and south Trinidad. And it is likely it will have to recommend a significant increase in its budgetary allocation come the mid-year review.
The Government and the Opposition voted together to enact crucial legislation which now bans attempts to recruit children into terrorist organisations.
The judiciary also promulgated the Children’s Court Rules. The rules are designed to promote a justice system that deals with children justly, provides for the treatment and rehabilitation of child offenders, enables such offenders to live responsibly and productively, promotes accountability for violations of laws, and protects the community.
Recent headlines relating to attempts to traffic children are a reminder of the pivotal role of the State in interdicting this practice. While the matter is now before the court, the international flavour of the recent case of an attempt to buy a baby is a reminder of the need for all agencies to collaborate. The problem of school violence remains. The negative effects of social media and cyber abuse also remain significant challenges that schools must find ways of dealing with.
Notwithstanding the need to reflect on all of these serious matters, we also hope families get to enjoy the remainder of their holidays.